Uighur rights@ (Adds quotes, detail)
NUR-SULTAN, Feb 2 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Kazakhstan on Sunday to join Washington in pressing China over its treatment of Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang province, a sensitive matter for the Central Asian nation which has close ties with Beijing.
Speaking on a visit to the capital Nur-Sultan, Pompeo said he has raised the matter in talks with Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi.
"The protection of basic human rights defines the soul of a nation. We discussed trafficking in persons and the plight of more one million Uighur Muslims and ethnic Kazakhs that the Chinese Communist Party has detained in Xinjiang, just across the Kazakh border," Pompeo said.
"The United States urges all countries to join us in pressing for an immediate end to this repression. We ask simply for them to provide safe refuge and asylum to those seeking to flee China. Protect human dignity, just do what's right."
The United Nations and human rights groups estimate that between 1 million and 2 million people, mostly ethnic Uighur Muslims, have been detained in harsh conditions as part of what Beijing calls an anti-terrorism campaign.
China has repeatedly denied any mistreatment of Uighurs and says the camps provide vocational training. It describes the detainees as students.
Pompeo also said the United States was helping oil-rich Kazakhstan protect itself against the coronavirus outbreak in neighboring China.
Tleuberdi, whose government has so far steered away from criticism of China over Xinjiang, made no comment on the Uighur issue and focused instead on economic and security cooperation. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)